To honor the memory of night photography teacher Steve Harper, I drove to Yosemite for the full moon this month. As I headed up Highway 395 to 120, a huge glowing orb was rising above Mono Lake. I parked at Olmsted Point, and took in the view down the valley to Half Dome. Then I hiked up the hill to take some pictures.
I didn't end up shooting Steve's rock until late into the night. I imagined how his famous image from 1981 looked. I remembered that the camera was at a low angle with the rock on the horizon line and positioned between the trees. I crawled around in front of the rock with my camera, and it felt like a photographer's version of a Buddhist prostration.
I wanted to bring my own sense of composition to the photo, because that's what great teachers like Steve inspire you to do. After some experimenting, I ended up with the camera closer to eye height, and opened the shutter. I laid down on the ground for a while to look at the stars, and listened to Can's Ege Bamyasi.
An hour later, my late night meditation on Steve's rock completed, I drove back down the hill to Lee Vining to get some sleep.